An honest take on life and parenthood

MBA Mommy

on June 27, 2012

The women in my business school class were the movers and shakers. Granted, we had some really active men, too, but if you wanted something done, the names that came to mind tended to be female.

This is additionally remarkable given that my MBA class was approximately 27% female, which is typical for most business schools across the country. While there were occasions we were reminded of a predominantly male program and male-dominated professions, for the most part, we didn’t think about it.

We were too busy running the school, conquering our classes, and competing for dream jobs with the top companies around the world.

Fast forward ten years.

Our newly minted MBA’s now have some tread marks on them. Some of us have gone on to have children, and others have not.

For those female classmates who did not have children, their careers and incomes have largely mirrored those of our male classmates. I am so proud of them I could pop. They are my girls!

But for those of us who ended up becoming mothers, the story is more complicated.

We made it into a top-tier business school because we were smart, hard-working, and had a vision of our lives as business leaders. We saw ourselves as the equals of our male classmates, and never doubted we could take on our male classmates in the classroom or the boardroom. We had visions of fabulous careers and being as successful as our name brand MBA promised. Why wouldn’t we?

But motherhood is a big bump in the road. Our experiences and choices are just so much different than those of our male and unmarried female classmates.  This may sound silly, but I didn’t think about this when I was in school.  I thought I would always be on equal career and income footing, regardless of whether I had children or not.

Now that I have the Pooh, the dream of my career has changed dramatically. I now constantly angle for creative ways to find satisfying, challenging work that also gives me flexibility for my other job as a mother. Ambition in the corporate world has taken a complete back seat.

This is not true of all of my female classmates with children. With the support of their partners and jobs, good incomes, and good planning, they are rising through the ranks of their companies.

But for me, and for several others of my female classmates, we’ve had to recalibrate our expectations of ourselves and what it means to be successful. For those of us who chose not to stay at home exclusively, we are starting businesses with more modest growth goals, finding part-time work arrangements, or taking lower stress jobs to give us the flexibility we want to in order to be around for our kids.  

As for myself, I’ve taken the pressure off of myself to be one of the career stars in my class. I didn’t go on to become a managing director or partner at a bank or consulting firm, or an executive at Facebook or Google, or the visionary CEO of a fast-growing startup. There will be no glossy profile of me in my business school magazine.

 It’s ok, though. My ambition isn’t gone. It just looks really different now.

One response to “MBA Mommy

  1. About Julie says:

    Great blog, Wendy. A story so many women of our generation can relate to all too well. Thanks for sharing your story!!!


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